Opinion: Many of you may be aware that back in February this year the council approved its first ever public-facing Disability Policy. The role of this policy is primarily to make a commitment to our district’s community about the needs of disabled individuals or groups. In doing so, it clearly sets out the requirements of both the organisation and its staff.
I, for one, am delighted to see this in place and welcome the commitment that council has made in this space. With such a diverse community made up of people from all backgrounds, covering the full spectrum of abilities, we should all endeavour to do what we can to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy what this beautiful part of the world has to offer.
At a fundamental level, this policy sets out the need for council facilities to be accessible to disabled people, now and in the future. QLDC staff have been actively engaging with the Wakatipu Access Group to discuss local accessibility challenges, as well as raising awareness within the organisation. Staff are being challenged to consider what changes they could make to their work practice to ensure the goals of this policy are considered.
For example, the communications team is looking at how the QLDC website could be updated to improve accessibility and have been exploring the idea of offering easy read alternatives for some council documents. Other teams are engaging with experts in universal design principles and exploring how these can be applied to the infrastructure work that QLDC undertakes. I look forward to seeing progress in these and other relevant spaces throughout the council as the policy becomes more embedded over time.
You may also be aware that the issue of access to mobility parking spaces was raised in the last few weeks, with attention drawn to a disabled individual working in the CBD using a mobility parking space all day. I think it’s important to confirm this individual was doing nothing wrong as they were entitled to use the space and there is no time limit on it at present.
However it does highlight the need for the mobility parking situation to be reviewed to ensure it is still meeting the needs of disabled people. The council is currently consulting on the Traffic & Parking Bylaw, which is the mechanism by which the current mobility provision can be revised. This could include time limitations on mobility parking spaces, as well as looking at the quantity and location of such spaces. Council staff will be actively seeking your feedback on mobility parking, as well as general parking, during this period.
It’s intended that the bylaw will provide a broad framework and new operational guidelines so I would encourage you to ensure you put in a submission if this is a subject that you want to be heard on. Don’t miss out on this important opportunity to have your say on changes that could make a significant improvement to the lives of disabled people in our district’s community.
Jim Boult is Queenstown’s mayor